Each member of the new team addressed the Assembly.
Cecilia: at the closing of this Assembly – we are deeply grateful to our God who makes His presence felt in our quests for fidelity I want to share a prayer written by our Argentine martyr Enrique Angelelli for Christmas & to really embrace it this day from within:
Lord we ask you on this day that you give each one of us courage & decision.
Because there is so much to be done
Homes for so many that are your children
Work for those who do not have bread
So many solutions to cure illnesses
We have to solve problems in education & rest
How many things we have to ask you for this morning!
Lord we ask you for ourselves a fundamental thing
That you make us faithful
That we may never tire of proclaiming YOUR NAME
Of walking with our peoples,
Helping us all to go forward together.
Marie McNiece: Genesis 12:1 “the Lord said the Abraham: go forth from your land, your relatives & from your father´s house to a land that I will show you”.
This is the call that we are asked to listen to, not only to leave the land of our own thinking & understanding but that home where we learnt so much. We are asked to give up everything for something that is strange & unfamiliar, I ask that we may hear the call & that with courage, grace & gratitude we will respond.
Closing of Chapter
We chose for out theme for this Assembly: Walking Together with Hope into the Future. As we prepare to fly out of here and head home I want to reflect on some of the implications I see for us as a Congregation.
We are walking
Walking is no longer our primary mode of transportation. In the fast paced world in which we live this is too slow. But when we walk we notice. We see more clearly what is around us. We hear sounds and we smell smells. We notice.
As we journey into the future we need to remember that we chose to walk into it. We have chosen to move into a way of living, of relating to the world in a totally different way from what we have been accustomed to. There is a new paradigm emerging.
Change is not going to happen with the speed of a text message. It is going to be as fast or as slow as the capacity of each individual. The road is not going to be smooth. It may get very tiring & we may be tempted to get off the road or take a shorter route.
There needs to be a strong element of patience in this walk. Ours is a contemplative walk.
It calls us to live the day to day with awareness – to be continually be willing to ask ourselves
What am I doing?
Why am I doing it?
Where do I want to go?
Contemplative reflection prepares us for discernment, not only regarding the major events & decisions in our lives.
We become more & more attuned to the movement of the Spirit – what is of the Spirit and what is not. The first movement into any future must happen in our hearts.
We are walking TOGETHER
The other night when we had our sing along I was struck by the easy mingling we have with one another. There was so much joy. You could feel it. This has been true throughout these days. We like each other.
That did not happen overnight.
Over the years we have been blessed to come to know one another across provinces & regions.
Our smallness as a Congregation makes relationships so much more possible.
The community is more than any area or province. We need to think of ourselves as one community which happens to have members on five continents.
But when we leave here and return to our own countries and communities it is easy to forget that.
Unity is built one relationship at a time. Those of us who have been privileged to attend international meetings like the General Assembly have a first hand experience of the richness in our different cultures and also in our differences.
To really listen to each other and to try to understand the meanings under the words is a challenge, but a blessed one. That cannot end when we leave here.
Each one of us needs to find ways to keep in touch with sisters we have met here and don´t know that well. Even to come to know one sister better is a step toward deeper unity among us.
We are walking into the future
We have a future. There is no question about that. There is life from the youngest to the oldest among us. Where there is life, there is a future.
Even though we have plans & proposals we don´t what the future is going to look like.
I am not talking about 20 years from now. We don´t know what tomorrow or six months or a year from now will bring to our journey as a Community. To be in religious life today is to be un unknown territory.
Ninety years ago four sisters came to this country to begin a new mission. They had no plan or proposals or guides on how to begin a new foundation.
My guess is that they got up every morning put one foot in front of the other and did what had to be done.
They and all our founding sisters were true daughters of Elizabeth Prout. Like her they placed their trust and confidence in God & kept going.
Today we are founding something new. Religious Life has changed radically in the last fifty years.
We are pioneers of an unknown future. But we are not alone nor will we go adrift if we keep our eyes on Jesus who beckons us to follow Him.
It is in the Gospel that we will find our blueprint for the future. The greatest assurance is to hear Jesus tell us over & over again “don´t be afraid”.
When Jesus comes to us and asks us to step out of the boat of our securities, can we do that?
And if like Peter we start to have second thoughts, can we trust that Jesus will be there to hold us up, encourage us & remove our fears.
The future of our Congregation is in our hands. We are in God´s hands & that is which gives us the faith & courage to keep moving the “goal posts” that Fr. Clemente spoke about yesterday.
Sisters when you leave here, you return to your homes carrying a precious gift. It is the gift of all that has happened over these days.
It is a gift that must be shared with your sisters in the communities of your province/areas.
Along with the plans that each group has made to share this experience, there are many informal ways that this can be shared.
You and I are the ones who were chosen & commissioned to do that. Sharing the experience is the first step.
Accompanying one another on the walk into a different more holistic style of living is the ongoing day to day adventure.
My prayer for each of us is that you will leave today with great joy in your hearts.
God has done great things for us. He has filled us with His love. He has blessed us with the most amazing Charism: to keep alive the memory of Jesus´s redemptive act of love.
He walks with us his blessed daughters.
Through the prophet Zephaniah he promises “the Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will renew you in His love; He will rejoice over you with loud singing as on a day of festival”.
Sisters, go with joy & thanksgiving. Your God is with you!
I declare the Congregational Assembly of 2014 closed
The Sisters proceed to sign the Acts of the Assembly